Tag Archives: Dentists

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Anesthesiology recognized as 10th dental specialty

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About 175 years ago, a dentist in Hartford, Connecticut, extracted one of his own third molars to test the analgesic properties of nitrous oxide. It was risky. But it paid off.

That’s a commitment to science right there.

It was Dr. Horace Wells’ introduction of nitrous oxide, and the demonstration of anesthetic properties of ether by Dr. William Morton, a student of Dr. Wells, that gave the gift of anesthesia to medicine and dentistry. Thanks, doctors!

And now, in 2019, dental anesthesiology has become the 10th dental specialty as recognized by the National Commission on Recognition of Dental Specialties and Certifying Boards. The recognition is a result of the National Commission adopting a resolution earlier this year based on an application from the American Society of Dentist Anesthesiologists to recognize dental anesthesiology as a dental specialty.

“This historic vote by the National Commission certainly reflects the ADA’s ongoing efforts towards improved patient care and safety in the areas of dental sedation, dental anesthesiology and access for those with special health care needs,” said Dr. James Tom, president of the American Society of Dentist Anesthesiologists.

Dental anesthesiology joins the following dental specialties: dental public health; endodontics; oral and maxillofacial pathology; oral and maxillofacial radiology; oral and maxillofacial surgery; orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics; pediatric dentistry; periodontics; and prosthodontics.

Dental specialties are recognized and selected “to protect the public, nurture the art and science of dentistry and improve the quality of care,” according to the National Commission website.

A sponsoring organization seeking specialty recognition for a discipline of dentistry must document that the discipline satisfies six requirements, as outlined in the “Requirements for Recognition of Dental Specialties.”

Additionally, the sponsoring organization of the proposed specialty must provide documentation to show that it is a distinct and well-defined field that requires unique knowledge and skills beyond those commonly possessed by dental school graduates; that it requires advanced knowledge and skills; and that it scientifically contributes new knowledge, education and research in both the field, and the profession.

Check, check and check. Welcome to the family, dental anesthesiologists.

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World Oral Health Day spotlights awareness about good oral hygiene

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Move over, St. Paddy. It’s time for World Oral Health Day, which is celebrated globally every year on March 20. It may not come with green beer and four-leafed clover cookies, but the day is organized by the FDI World Dental Federation and is the most extensive global awareness campaign on oral health.

The observance spreads the word about the importance of good oral hygiene practices to adults and children alike and demonstrates the importance of optimal oral health in maintaining general health and well-being.

Every year, World Oral Health Day chooses a specific theme and reaches out to the public, oral health professionals and health-related policymakers who all have a role to play in helping reduce the burden of oral disease.

The official theme of the 2019 campaign is “Say Ahh: Act on Mouth Health.”

World Oral Health Day first became a thing in 2007 and was originally celebrated on Sept. 12 — which is the birth date of FDI founder Dr. Charles Godon. The campaign was not fully activated until 2013, and at that time, the date was changed to March 20 in order to avoid conflict with the FDI World Dental Congress, which traditionally takes place in the late summer/early fall.

Resources and tips on how to celebrate World Oral Health Day are available at worldoralhealthday.org/resources.

FDI World Dental Federation is the largest membership-based dental organization in the world. It is the principal representative body for over one million dentists worldwide. FDI’s membership comprises approximately 200 national member dental associations, including the ADA, and specialist groups in some 130 countries.

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Funding available for overseas dental care efforts

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It was Martin Luther King, Jr. who once wisely said, “There is nothing greater than to do something for others.” If you’re a dentist or dental professional who embraces this mindset, get ready for some great news!

If you’re involved with a U.S.-based nonprofit organization working to improve access to oral health care in underserved communities outside the U.S., funding is available for your work. You have until April 26 to apply for the American Dental Association (ADA) Foundation Grant for International Dental Volunteer Projects.

The most successful dentists stay dedicated to the profession by exploring other opportunities in the field. Volunteering your time, skills, and services for the betterment of others is one way to revitalize, strengthen, and sustain enthusiasm in your career.

The grants available through the ADA are up to $5,000 and are designed to support dental outreach programs.

Five organizations were selected to receive these grants in 2018. The recipients were the Colonial Presbyterian Church in Kansas City for its work in Guatemala; Global Dental Relief in Denver for its work in Nepal; Medical Eye Dental International Care Organization (MEDICO) in Northlake, Illinois, for its work in Honduras; Open Wide Foundation in Scottsdale, Arizona, for its work in Guatemala; and Strong Villages in Agoura Hills, California, for its work in Belize, Ecuador and India.

Who Can Get Involved?

As a dentist or dental hygienist, your unique skill set is quite portable. With the help of some basic equipment and instruments, a rudimentary dental clinic can be set up anywhere just about in the world.

Although international medical volunteers are statistically practitioners in their middle years or close to retirement, those in the early years of practice, teaching, or even those still in dental school can gain a lifetime of satisfaction by getting involved.

International colleagues in many developing countries are eager to learn from their U.S. counterparts as well as share their own techniques.

Learn more about the grant at ADAFoundation.org/en/how-to-apply/access-to-care#IntlGrant.

For those interested in volunteering internationally, visit the ADA Foundation’s international volunteer website, ADAFoundation.org/internationalvolunteer.

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Upcoming webinar shows how to handle awkward patient situations successfully

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If you’ve ever wondered if there were resources out there for dentists and practice administrators who find themselves sideways with a patient for one reason or another, wonder no more!

A March 12 American Dental Association webinar will offer dentists and dental practice team members real-life solutions for managing…umm…let’s say delicate patient situations. Things like addressing cancellations and no-shows, tips for fielding phone calls from prospective patients and even guidance on the right way to dismiss patients from the practice will be covered.

The free ADA webinar is called “GPS Managing Patients Webinar: You Want Me to Say WHAT to a Patient?! How to Resolve Delicate Patient Situations with Tact and Diplomacy.” It will be held from 12 to 1 p.m. Central time. The educational program is sponsored by the ADA Council on Dental Practice.

“Every practice can benefit from a refresher course on handling the types of conversations that no one wants to have,” said Dr. Nima Aflatooni, chair of the council’s Practice Management Subcommittee. “Shifting the focus of these discussions so they’re patient-centric can be a real game-changer.”

Goals of the one-hour course include helping practitioners to:

  • Create and foster a practice culture that’s authentic and patient-driven.
  • Manage uncomfortable conversations with patients with sensitivity and professionalism.
  • Develop business and communications protocols that enhance production.

ADA member dentists can register here. And don’t forget to ask about eligibility for one hour of continuing education credit through the ADA Continuing Education Recognition Program.

The program will be presented by Denise Ciardello, past president of the Academy of Dental Management Consultants, and an entrepreneur, professional speaker, published author and co-founder of Global Team Solutions (GTS), a practice management-consulting firm; and Dr. Pamela Porembski, director of the ADA Council on Dental Practice in the Practice Institute.

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When healthcare and politics intersect

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Healthcare consumers and providers may not always speak of politics and healthcare in the same breath; however, these two powerful cultural and societal forces are often inextricably linked in multifaceted ways.

For healthcare providers who want to have an impact in this regard, understanding politics and the political nature of medicine and patient care is paramount.

The Obvious Political Healthcare Footballs

When we consider the cross-pollination of healthcare and politics, we need look no further than the ongoing arguments, disagreements, and activism related to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Created under the administration of President Barack Obama, the ACA continues to be a lightning rod on both sides of the political aisle.

While persistently overt attempts to eradicate or undermine the ACA have mostly gone underground since the 2018 political sea change in the U.S. Congress, many can attest that the current administration has continued to work covertly in this regard. Whether you agree with the reality of the ACA or not, its place in American society remains firm, especially for those who love it or loathe it.

Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and other programs related to the health and well-being of Americans are frequently under some form of threat when the political winds shift direction. How we as a country respond to such rancor depends upon our relative positions regarding these so-called “entitlements.”

Healthcare Professionals in the Political Arena

A large swath of Americans may not be aware of the fact that many healthcare providers serve in local, state, and federal governments in a variety of positions.

According to Advisory.com, 17 nurses and physicians were elected to Congress in the 2018 mid-term election cycle. Nurse Lauren Underwood, for example, is the first African-American woman to represent Illinois’ Chicago-based 14th District, and Jeff Van Drew is a dentist newly representing New Jersey’s 2nd District.

Other more well-known members of Congress include Bernice Johnson (a former psychiatric nurse), Karen Bass (yet another nurse turned politician), and Raul Ruiz, a California-based ED physician. These and others bring their training and knowledge to the table, not to mention an insider’s understanding of the larger healthcare system and its intrinsic challenges and successes.

As far as local and state politics, there’s little doubt that medical professionals sit on city councils, school boards, electoral commissions, and in state houses around the country. They are likely also accompanied by numerous colleagues who are teachers, ranchers, attorneys, social workers, business owners, and all manner of professionals who choose to serve their communities in this particular way.

There is indeed precedence for healthcare workers to run for office, and our communities benefit from these individuals and the multifaceted expertise they proffer.

Healthcare Provider Activism

Those who do not care to run for office can still have an impact when it comes to chiming in on issues salient to the health and well-being of their fellow citizens. The ways in which healthcare workers can use their voice and the power of the pen to influence legislation and decision-making include, but are not limited to:

  • Letters to the editor
  • Contacting, local, state, and federal lawmakers
  • Writing articles for newspapers, journals, websites, and magazines
  • Becoming a published author of books related to healthcare delivery, quality, etc.
  • Learning how to read, understand, and respond to pending legislation
  • Launching blogs, websites, or podcasts pertaining to these types of issues
  • Becoming a social media influencer in the space where healthcare and policy intersect

Healthcare provider activism need not be limited to marching in the streets or protesting, although nonviolent civil disobedience is a cornerstone of the political freedoms enjoyed in the United States and other countries where speech and assembly are generally protected. Any healthcare worker who feels the call to action can engage on whatever level is comfortable and appropriate.

Politics, Healthcare, and Beyond

There is no rulebook instructing medical providers on how, why, where, and when to engage in political discourse. Although some employers may discourage open political debate or their staff members appearing on the news or in blogs, podcasts, or articles that may be construed as opinionated or partisan, many healthcare providers do indeed engage in such activities.

Politics and healthcare are permanently entwined, despite some who may turn a blind eye to this fact. Whereas our society can at times appear heavily divided into silos, these two powerful and influential silos certainly overlap in profound ways.

No matter how a nurse, physical therapist, social worker, or dietitian may feel about the political landscape, there is always room for those who wish to speak their peace on salient and timely conversations of great import to citizens, communities, states, the nation, and the world at large.

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Top tips for taking care of your child’s dental health

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It’s a joyous time for sure, but new parents really do have so much to think about! Breast or bottle? Cloth diapers or disposable? To circumcise or not? And all that, in the first few days of their new baby’s life!

Many people don’t know it but, believe it or not, cavity prevention starts at birth. And given that more than 40 percent of children have cavities by the time they reach kindergarten, there are simple things parents can do to ensure healthy oral development for their children during pregnancy and after the big delivery.

February is recognized as National Children’s Dental Health Month. Dr. Lynse Briney, a Chicago Dental Society pediatric dentist, has offered her top tips for taking care of dental health for young children:

Maintain a healthy diet and hydrate (during pregnancy)

Proper nutrition is essential for growth and development during pregnancy and after. Vitamin D and folic acid are particularly important when it comes to the formation of primary teeth, as well as the prevention of cleft lip and palate.

Clean your baby’s mouth before teeth start coming in

It’s important to wipe the gums to prevent bacteria build-up from leftover food particles. Once the teeth start coming in, use a tooth brush to clean the teeth and gums twice a day.

Remove bottles when feedings are complete

Some parents are inclined to put their babies to bed with bottles, but it’s one of the most common causes of discoloration and cavities.

Find alternative sources of fluoride

While young children can use fluoride toothpaste (there are certain guidelines), fluoridated tap water is an excellent source of fluoride for children and is essential in helping prevent tooth decay.

Schedule a consultation with a pediatric dentist

Parents should schedule an oral exam for their child within six months of their first tooth and establish a primary dentist by the age of 1 for regular visits.

For more information about National Children’s Dental Health Month, click here.

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What dentists need to know for tax season

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The very most important thing dentists need to tell their young patients who are losing their baby teeth?

Pay your taxes on your tooth fairy income.

OK, maybe not. But a little humor never hurt anyone — especially when talking about taxes. And dentists.

Jokes aside, down to business. Dentists who own and operate their own practices who have purchased or financed equipment during the 2018 calendar year, may elect to take the Section 179 deduction when filing their taxes in order to maximize their savings.

Boom.

Internal Revenue Service Code Section 179 allows business owners to deduct the purchase price of equipment and/or software put into service during the year.

ADA News recently talked with Allen M. Schiff, a certified public accountant and president of the Academy of Dental CPAs. The goal of the interview was to see what dentists need to know about 179 expensing. Schiff is the president of the Academy of Dental CPAs, which is made up of 24 dental CPA firms representing more than 9,000 dental practices across the nation.

High points of the interview include:

Eligibility

Any dental practice filing a U.S. Business Income Tax Return in 2018 is eligible to elect the Section 179 deduction so long as they acquired the equipment during 2018 and it was placed in service and installed by Dec. 31, 2018.

Limits

A dental practice can deduct up to $1 million in equipment purchases during 2018 as long as the total purchases of equipment during 2018 did not exceed $2.5 million.

Changes

For 2018, you can now use both new and used equipment for Section 179 as well as Bonus Depreciation. In the past, this was not available as only new equipment applied to Section 179 whereas Bonus Depreciation allowed both new and used equipment acquisitions.

The information in this blog is not intended to be and shouldn’t be considered tax, accounting or legal advice. Readers are urged to consult a qualified professional when seeking such advice. ADA member dentists needing tax advice can visit www.adcpa.org for help in finding a dental CPA close to you and your practice.

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Medicare payments come in short for practices that rely on them

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Medical practices that live and die on the gyrations of Medicare payments might find themselves near death’s door in 2019 if feedback from these organizations is any sign of their viability and longevity. Medicare reimbursements simply may not be cutting it for as many as two-thirds of practices that receive the federal payments.

Per responses, Medicare payment rates for 2019 will not cover the basic cost of their delivering care to patients, an MGMA Stat poll points out.

The new poll, conducted recently, found that just a bit more than 15 percent of the 478 respondents to the survey said they expected their practice’s Medicare payment rates would be above what it costs to deliver care to beneficiaries. Meanwhile, only 17 percent of these practice representatives said that they expect the rates will be equal to covering their costs.

Given these numbers, that means more than two-thirds of practices don’t expect a surplus — in fact, they are planning for a shortfall. What they’ll try to do is “rely on contracts with private insurance companies covering non-Medicare patients to offset their loss,” FierceHealthcare reports.

“Medicare fee-for-service can’t be entirely abandoned. Below-cost rates coupled with limited APM [alternative payment model] opportunities won’t sustain the transition to value-based payment and will potentially impact access to care,” said Anders Gilberg, the Medical Group Management Association’s senior vice president for government affairs.

This news, of course, is not good for practices under a Medicare-for-all healthcare system. Obviously, medical practices can’t afford to provide services on a Medicare-for-all reimbursement model, and most of these care organizations argue that as Medicare rates go lower, those patients often require more care. The Medicare “population is more complex, more sickly and has comorbidities that you don’t see elsewhere. It takes more resources to manage their conditions,” said one of the survey respondents quoted in an MGMA commentary.

Under the payment system put in place by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), Medicare fee-for-service payments are not keeping up with inflation or the cost of running a physician practice, MGMA officials said.

“As medical practices transition toward a value-based payment environment, fee-for-service does not need to be abandoned entirely, but it does need to be updated appropriately,” they wrote. “Even if a payment system provides the right incentives, if the underlying reimbursement rates are too low, the system is not sustainable for physicians to continue providing high-value care.”

Under the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), the track by which most practices participate, even those with the highest performance scores only earned a 1.88 percent positive adjustment for the first year of the program, which is less than the 22 percent originally talked about as the high range for possible payments.

On Nov. 1, 2018, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued its final rule that included updates to payment policies, payment rates and quality provisions for services furnished under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (PFS). Per CMS, the final rule “is one of several final rules that reflect a broader Administration-wide strategy to create a healthcare system that results in better accessibility, quality, affordability, empowerment and innovation.”

To read more about the full rule changes affecting practices, view the CMS release announcing the changes. The devil is in the details, of course, and there are a number of substantive details to become familiar with.

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